You have to read this book: Where the Crawdads Sing

I love to read and have always been a voracious reader. According to my profile, I have read more than 300 books in my lifetime. The book I just finished – Where the Crawdads Sing – is by far one of the best books I have ever read, and I absolutely had to tell you about it. I tried to write this piece without any spoilers that would give away the totally unexpected ending. So, if this is on your “books to read” list, you will be safe reading this.

I love reading true crime novels or psychological thrillers, but due to everything currently going on in the world, I needed something a little less scary. I needed to read something a little lighter. This was not the light, airy beach read that I thought it would be, but I love it nonetheless. I often find that books find me when I need them most. I emotionally connect with the characters and become enthralled in their lives. When I am reading a great book, I cannot help but feel that the characters are in the book patiently waiting for me to return so the story can continue – similar to a paused movie or television show.

Written by Delia Owens and published in Summer 2018, the book was a New York Times Best Seller in 2019 and 2020. The book is written in the third person and focuses mainly on one character – Catherine “Kya” Danielle Clark. In the story, two timelines lead up to a singular event. Often, differing timelines can be confusing to the reader and is incredibly difficult to do without causing confusion, but the author nails it.

The story begins as six-year-old Kya watches her mother leave their home in the North Carolina marsh, carrying a blue train case and wearing fake alligator high heels. Desperate to escape their abusive father, Kya’s older siblings leave one by one. Confused as to why her siblings didn’t take her with them, eventually, Kya was left to fend for herself as her father would disappear for days, and sometimes weeks, on end drinking and gambling. Finally, when Kya is 10 years old, her father abandons her also.

Excerpt from the book:

“Sometimes she heard night-sounds she didn’t know or jumped from lightning too close, but whenever she stumbled, it was the land who caught her. Until at last, at some unclaimed moment, the heart-pain seeped away like water into sand. Still there, but deep. Kya laid her hand upon the breathing, wet earth, and the marsh became her mother.”

When she has to leave the marsh and go to the nearby town of Barkley Cove, the locals mock her calling her “Marsh Girl.” On her own, she learns to survive. The plants and animals of the marsh become her family and her only solace. While boating one day, she meets Tate, who helps her find her way back home in a storm. Tate was friends with Kya’s older brother and feels terrible for Kya. He boats to her house almost every day and teaches Kya to read. When Tate leaves for college, he promises to come back, but he doesn’t. Once again, Kya is left abandoned and alone. She vows to never let anyone get close to her again. When she meets Chase Andrews, a popular boy from Barkley Cove, she didn’t realize that meeting him would change her life and that years later, she would be on trial, charged with Chase’s murder.

The author gives clues as to who could have murdered Chase, and so many times throughout the story, I thought I knew who killed Chase, but it turns out that I didn’t. The ended was so unexpected and beautiful. It was not at all what I expected, but it was so much more.

If I could sum this book up in just one word, it would be “beautiful.” It is such a beautifully written story, loaded with love, heartbreak, emotion, and suspense. I finished reading it, and I was frozen. I couldn’t move, speak or think - I just cried and kinda smiled.

I will close with just one of the beautiful quotes from this book:

“Let’s face it, a lot of times love doesn’t work out. Yet even when it fails, it connects you to others and, in the end, that is all you have, the connections.”

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